Q&A with Former Teen Center Member and U.S. Army Soldier, SPC Barbosa
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we spoke with U.S. Army soldier, SPC Barbosa, who is a proud alum of Catholic Charities Teen Center. From learning the value of community and support, to learning discipline and teamwork, SPC Barbosa says the Teen Center instilled skills and values in him that he still uses today as a member of the U.S. Army.
When did you join the Teen Center and what was your experience like?
I joined the Teen Center when I was in the sixth grade and was a member through eighth grade. The summer after my freshman year, I worked there as a Counselor in Training. I was doing other internships after that, so I wasn’t able to continue but I still always stopped by the Teen Center to say hi to everyone.
The Teen Center was always meaningful to me because I knew it was a place I could always go after school, where I could have fun with my friends and be safe and learn. It was a distraction from things going on around me, too – whether that be gang violence or issues going on in Boston.
When did you decide to join the U.S. Army?
I always knew I wanted to join the military. I have a lot of family who served. My cousin was in the Marines, and I’d always looked up to him, so I knew I wanted to follow in his shoes and join the Army. At the Teen Center, they knew since I was in middle school I wanted to serve. They always support you no matter what you want to do.
What has your experience as a member of the Army been like so far?
My experience has been amazing. I joined in May 2021. I went to basic training and AIT training – which stands for Advanced individual training, then Airborne School for about 2 – 3 weeks to learn how to jump out of helicopters and planes. I always tell people; the first jump is scary but after that you can’t wait to do it again. It actually is one of the most peaceful feelings. In November 2021, I came to my first duty station, Fort Liberty in North Carolina. I’ve learned so much and had so many incredible experiences, including training with the Polish military in Poland, where I was deployed in 2022 for six months.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your time serving in the U.S. Army so far?
When I joined, I was just a kid straight out of high school. Now I feel grown up. I know how to be financially responsible. I know how to take care of my body and health and how to be disciplined, physically and mentally. I’ve learned the value of doing the right thing, and that helping people is always rewarding.
The Catholic Charities Teen Center serves 300 adolescents living in Dorchester’s Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood after school hours and throughout the summer months. The staff, programs, and activities aim to increase teens’ self-esteem while providing the tools needed for academic and personal growth as well as their success in the community. Learn how to support the Teen Center and Catholic Charities Boston’s other life-changing programs here.